Awareness of the Hulu original series, Castle Rock, came to me as a result of a synchronicity thread I’m experiencing. As this year winds down, I’ve already received the word, Enchanted, and the symbol, the Queen chess piece, for 2019. It’s been an incredible experience, receiving confirmation that these are indeed crucial to my journey next year, even if I don’t yet fully understand why.
Riding in my daughter’s car last month, we listened to beautiful music from Max Richter. She shared how the music sounded familiar, when she played it recently, causing her to track down where she had heard it before. Elissa’s search led her to Episode 7, of the series Castle Rock that she had just watched. Her enthusiasm for the series created a desire to watch it as well. And Episode 7, Elissa told me, was titled The Queen! She felt it was the best episode she had ever seen on television. With that title it seemed important for me to view it.
Over the last 10 days, I watched the entire first season of Castle Rock. I’m so glad I did.
Castle Rock Season One
Castle Rock is inspired by the characters and stories of Stephen King. The fantasy/drama stars André Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Melanie Lynskey, Sissy Spacek, Terry O’Quinn, Scott Glenn, Caleel Harris, Adam Rothenberg and Chosen Jacobs. The series carries a MA rating, for language, violence and adult themes, and each episode has a run time of about 45 minutes. Currently the series is only available on Hulu.
Castle Rock is a town in Maine, well known in the Stephen King multiverse. It appears to be a small town where lots of bad things happen. Shawshank Prison looms over the town, literally and energetically. An anonymous call from there brings attorney Henry Deaver (Holland) home to meet with a mysterious client, discovered caged beneath the prison.
Castle Rock unsettles Henry. The strange man he represents, known only as The Kid (Skarsgård), disturbs him even more. The man was caged by former prison warden Dale Lacy (O’Quinn), who commits suicide, leaving The Kid to be discovered when the new warden arrives.
As Henry attempts to unravel The Kid’s past, he reconnects with his mother, Ruth (Spacek), and her long time companion, former town sheriff Alan Pangborn (Glenn). Henry’s father, the Reverend Matthew Deaver (Rothenberg), died tragically when Henry was a boy. Being home stirs up the past.
Henry has mysterious circumstances in his own life. He was adopted by the Deavers and disappeared for days during a cold Maine winter. Young Henry (Harris) reappeared just as abruptly as he vanished, with no memory of what had happened to him. The father died while his son was gone, and the townspeople believe Henry was responsible for the reverend’s death.
Henry’s dark past distracts him as he digs deeper into The Kid’s story. His mother’s fragile memory is cause for concern and Molly (Lynskey), his former childhood friend and neighbor, has grown into a troubled woman with a secret ability. Castle Rock appears to being growing darker and more violent by the day. Time is running out to protect the people he loves and figure out The Kid’s identity.
Episode 7 The Queen
Elissa’s praise for this episode was justified. Situated toward the end of the season, this episode is the pinnacle of the story. Ruth is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and throughout the show she has lucid moments and times of confusion.
Ruth’s neurologist describes her symptoms as “confusion with time and space”. Ruth tells her grandson Wendell (Jacobs) that she has been snatched from the predictable path of time, and misled into other days and other years. She relies on a system she created for herself, to help her get back to Now. Her Lewis chess pieces, a gift from Alan, are the breadcrumbs that lead her back.
Ruth, who buried her husband in 1991, can walk into a room and suddenly find herself talking to him, or reading a story to young Henry. But when she travels to these other times and places, finding one of the chess pieces propels her back into the present.
This hauntingly beautiful episode highlights the confusion and fear that one with memory loss must live with. What was once ordinary and routine becomes a jumble of mixed up memories and times. Sissy Spacek portrays Ruth with incredible depth and poignancy. Seeing life in Castle Rock from her perspective gives me great compassion toward those bravely battling all forms of dementia.
The Messed Up Town of Castle Rock
I enjoyed this well done series. Although it stands on its own, whether the viewer is familiar with the works of Stephen King or not, the show has delightful and creepy King touches. The residents of Castle Rock continually blame the town itself for the bad things that people do there. I’m still thinking about the implications of this first season. The finale left the end of the story open to interpretation. I have my own ideas and I look forward to discussing Castle Rock with family members who have already watched it.
I am thinking the most about The Queen. The story intrigued me. Was Ruth a time walker or a sad woman lost in muddled up memories? And what deeper message is there for me? My symbol for next year just keeps showing up, and I know these aren’t mere coincidences. The chess pieces throughout the series, that played a key role in this episode, seemed to call to me as well. I’m still sorting it all out.